Why Aberdeen have 'every incentive' to go for Champions League place this season

Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack has set his sights on the Pittodrie club challenging for a Champions League place this season.

Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack at a game at Pittodrie against St Mirren last month (Photo by Bill Murray / SNS Group)
Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack at a game at Pittodrie against St Mirren last month (Photo by Bill Murray / SNS Group)

Uefa have confirmed that, due to the improvement in Scottish clubs’ fortunes in Europe, the runners-up in this season’s Premiership will enter the second qualifying stage of the Champions League.

Celtic’s stuttering form of late means teams such as Aberdeen and Hibs can sense an opportunity. Derek McInnes’ side have finished fourth in their last two seasons.

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Aberdeen are currently fourth again and are three points behind second-placed Celtic having played a game more. Third-placed Hibs are two points behind the current champions, who have two games in hand.

“Maybe for the first time in three years the league is kind of open to that opportunity,” observed Cormack, who officially took over at Pittodrie one year ago today.

“We will go into the transfer window looking at ins and outs. January is always a difficult window, but we will look at what we can get to push as hard as we can push, as a club.

“Next year, if you get into the Champions League and get knocked out at the qualifying round stage you go into the third round of qualifying for the Europa League and if you go out of that you have one round to get to the group stages of the Conference.

“There is every incentive there for us. We’ve got a good squad and a great bunch of lads and if we keep people fit and healthy, we will do okay.”

Future signings

Cormack confirmed he is due to have a discussion with McInnes later this week about potential squad improvements in January. The Atlanta-based chairman has expressed sympathy for the plight of right back Ronald Hernandez, who has failed to breakthrough at Pittodrie after a reputed £800,000 move from Norwegian club Stabaek at the start of this year.

Hernandez represented a statement signing for the new owner at the time.

McInnes revealed at the club’s agm on Monday night that they expect to recoup their investment if he is sold in January. The manager indicated there was still plenty of interest in the 23-year-old, who has made just for starts.

“We still feel it was the right move to make, not every move works in every market place,” reflected Cormack. “I am going to leave Derek to work with Ronny - who is a fantastic guy, Derek gets on with him well - to work through where he takes his career from here.”

Cormack also confirmed Aberdeen would upgrade Pittodrie if reaching the group stage of the Europa or Conference League – or even the Champions League – becomes a reality. Although Aberdeen have qualified for Europe under McInnes in each of the last six years, they have not made it to the group stage.

The club expect to have to fork out in the region of £250,000 just to get the floodlights up to the required standard.

“If you get to the group stages, then that would be £3-4 million, so it would seem a no-brainer to make the investment,” said Cormack. The club have confirmed plans for a new stadium on the outskirts of town are “on the back burner” due to the pandemic.

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